Led by Uber, the industry is disrupting traditional transportation by providing people with alternatives to taxis and buses. The competing choices now include one’s own vehicle, public transit, taxi or Uber (or a similar service).
As the ride-sharing industry spreads throughout Canada, provincial and municipal governments are working toward regulating it.
The industry is not yet as widespread in Canada as in other countries. Only three provinces, so far, have Uber.
Transportation legislation varies from province to province. In some cases, legislating ride-sharing is a provincial responsibility; in others, it’s up to municipalities.
In Alberta, for example, Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge and Red Deer have adopted bylaws to regulate ride-sharing companies. Edmonton amended Vehicle for Hire Bylaw 17400 and Calgary amended the Livery Transport Bylaw, which allows transportation network companies to operate if they meet a number of conditions, such as proper vehicle insurance, mandatory vehicle inspections, valid driver’s licence and criminal record checks.
Manitoba, however, is Uber-less. But the legislature is debating Bill 30, the proposed Local Vehicles for Hire Act. It would dissolve the Manitoba Taxicab Board and allow municipalities to set rules.
Saskatchewan is also Uber-less. Municipal councils and the provincial government are struggling with regulations around insuring and licensing the industry players.
British Columbia is similarly Uber-less. The provincial government is working on passing legislation, Bill M206 – Rideshare Enabling Act, 2017. The bill proposes that transportation network company drivers must provide proof of authorized vehicle use, registration, a valid driving licence and insurance. Drivers must have annual criminal background checks and provide yearly provincial driving records. Additional rules include annual vehicle inspections, only allowing electronic payments and receipts, and no soliciting or accepting street hails.
Quebec proposed regulations that would require ride-sharing drivers to have 35 hours of training and have criminal background checks. These regulations will help the industry and ensure the safety of riders. Surprisingly, Quebec is the only jurisdiction that will require mandatory training for drivers.
Quebec Transportation Minister André Fortin has made his position very clear: “My job is to put a regulatory framework in place. Whether a specific private company decides to operate within it, it’s not for me to be for or against that.”
While it’s the job of provincial and municipal governments to regulate Uber, best-practice frameworks must be adopted. The ride-sharing industry must operate within a competitive environment rather than be regulated out of the public’s choice.
Gerard A. Lucyshyn is the vice-president of research with Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
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